David Thompson
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November 20, 2014

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rjmadden

We need to own this as a campus.

What they need to own (but won't) is something very different.

David

Based on the accounts I’ve seen, it’s still not entirely clear what the basis for outrage and collective atonement is.

One grievance, quoted often, is that a Latino student felt “very uncomfortable” when asked by a café worker if he wanted jalapeños with his meal. A couple of other, more credibly offensive comments are alleged, though corroboration from other students who were present is apparently not forthcoming. Nevertheless, Renee Madison, a “senior advisor to the president for diversity and compliance,” announced confidently, “There is no difference between this [alleged ‘microaggression’] and sexual assault.”

The protestors and sympathetic faculty seem eager to bolster their indignation by invoking a far more serious but entirely unrelated incident in Mexico. Apparently, some missing students in Iguala – students not from DePauw - show how DePauw is “a hostile learning and living environment.” They seem quite happy to blur distinctions between 43 people who were kidnapped and are presumed dead and an alleged “incident of disrespect” in the university cafeteria.

Jimmy

Back in September, DU approved a Classroom Atmosphere policy which encourages students to report any microaggressions on campus.

Wow. Quite orwellian, aren't they?

RY

The students in Mexico were abducted and almost certainly murdered.

How dare these people draw an equivalence between that and whatever their own very minor 'grievances' are.

The narcissism and disconnect from any kind of reality is obscene.

Nikw211

“There is no difference between this [alleged ‘microaggression’] and sexual assault.”

Well this at least I can get on board with insofar as they are both products of fevered and overwrought imaginations.

I see Professor Newman is – quelle surprise – in the Sociology department at DU.

One of his books is Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality the second chapter of which has the title: Manufacturing Difference: The Social Construction of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality.

How pleasingly ironic that phrase "Manufacturing Difference" turns out to be in light of these events.

The Lurker on the Threshold

...need to own this as a...

What does this phrase actually mean?

Normally when I own, say, a chair it just means it is mine. And it's pretty implicit that I own it in its capacity as a chair. In the case of the campus I get the feeling that they are not saying that it is a campus (as opposed to a pencil case perhaps?) and that they own the title deed, so what do they mean?

RY - I couldn't agree more. Obscene is precisely the right word for such antics.

David

As we’ve seen, ludicrous disproportion is hardly uncommon on campus. And its effect, a cousin of hysteria, is by no means accidental.

Nikw211

And yes, drawing an equivalence between being asked if you would like jalapenos with your meal and the murder of 43 students with the possible collusion of both the police and the cartels is morally repugnant.

Though I have to say this kind of deeply cynical Trojan Horsing where a genuine tragedy is used to smuggle through a ludicrous and indefensible proposition is almost a commonplace these days.

The abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria, the murder of a beauty queen and her sister in Honduras, the imprisonment of a woman for having the temerity to watch a game of men's basketball can all, apparently, be submitted as evidence of widespread misogyny in Western democratic first world nations.

Dan

If they want to own stuff they should at least consider paying for it.

It's like these 'Whose streets? Our streets!' people currently making a mess of the UK. If they own the streets, can they take a few hours off from shouting bollocks at the police and fix the pothole outside my house?

David

deeply cynical Trojan Horsing

Yes, quite. Taken as reported, the protestors seem to be deliberately exploiting feelings about a truly horrible incident in another country and blurring those feelings with what, if true, appears to be a fairly minor incident of cafeteria rudeness.

David

Not entirely unrelated:

On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings “who do not have uteruses” should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological — and claimed the debate would threaten the “mental safety” of Oxford students. Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with “instruments” — heaven knows what — that would allow them to disrupt proceedings. Incredibly, Christ Church capitulated… announcing that they would refuse to host the debate on the basis that it now raised “security and welfare issues.”

The original Mr. X

David:

"One grievance, quoted often, is that a Latino student felt “very uncomfortable” when asked by a café worker if he wanted jalapeños with his meal."

And of course, if he hadn't been offered jalapeños, that would no doubt have been a micro-aggression too. "Oh, so those are only for the white students, huh?"

"Not entirely unrelated:"

And, in a similar vein:

"The arguments against hosting the debate were spurious. That only men were speaking was no reason to stop it. A) Anyone objecting to the subject matter or the virile masculinity of the speakers was free not to attend. B) A private society should be allowed to invite whoever they want to discuss whatever they want (providing it’s legal and doesn’t incite violence etc). C) The idea that an ethical issue can only be debated by the people directly affected by it is self-evidently unintelligent. And D) we weren’t debating women’s right to choose anyway but instead the effect of abortion on wider society, which does include a few men. Sorry, by “men” I mean “cisgendered heteronormative masculine pronouns in possession of a Hampton wick”."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11239437/Oxford-students-shut-down-abortion-debate.-Free-speech-is-under-assault-on-campus.html

Paul Nottingham

They really have a lot of growing up to do before they become mature adults. Unfortunately some of those who teach them have never reached that level themselves.

splotchy

I am bemused by the increasingly frequent suggestion, nay, instruction that we are all defined by our gender/race into neat little groups of victims or oppressors - as though actions and intent have nothing to do with it. This then leads to finger-pointing at 'oppressor' groups that any thought or action regarding 'victims' is some sort of microaggression and worthy of hatred, regardless of whether the action helps or hinders.

Such people would no doubt have not wanted the white William Wilberforce to campaign against the black slave trade, or the predominantly male UK government of the mid 1970s to introduce the sex discrimination act - no, their actions would have been regarded with suspicion and condemnation.

There is nothing more illiberal than telling someone they can't have an opinion on something, or debate/campaign where their conscience dictates. The racists and sexists are those who 'check their privilege' first.

Ray

I'm an Englishman. Whenever someone offers me a cup of tea something inside me dies. I blame the matriarchy. Shall I be mother?

R. Sherman

Related:

Students specializing in “critical race theory”—an intellectually vacuous import from law schools—play the race card incessantly against their fellow students and their professors, leading to an atmosphere of nervous self-censorship. Foreign students are particularly shell-shocked by the school’s climate. “The Asians are just terrified,” says a recent graduate. “They walk into this hyper-racialized environment and have no idea what’s going on. Their attitude in class is: ‘I don’t want to talk. Please don’t make me talk!’ ”

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

I studied at Oxford (for a summer) about 100 years ago. I was so thrilled by the atmosphere of inquiry, learning, blah blah blah. Now it sounds like any other crappy mid-Western campus, filled with whiny dolts and perpetually aggrieved nincompoops and natterers. Sigh.

Nikw211

Slightly off-topic, but broadly related:

"I am a philosopher. We live in perverted times so let me tell you a perverted joke."

denis

we need to distribute some "clue" sticks and teach those with a usable brain how to use them!

John D

Also broadly related. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152510161402689&fref=nf

Praguestepchild

As a stale pale male who grew up in New Mexico, I feel very microaggresed when someone DOESN'T offer me jalapenos with my meal.

Nikw211

Also broadly related.

John D.,

I have to say, I was just about to switch that video off having not seen anything particularly scandalous or even noteworthy in people giving the brush off to what seemed to be a guy who was obviously attention seeking.

Then he switched flags.

Then I watched to the end.

I'm not altogether surprised, but I was quite shocked (as contradictory as that may sound).

Tedunderhill2

'DU is a small, private, liberal arts college and school of music located in Greencastle, Indiana.'

Scratch another one off the list of universities I might recommend my kids attend. Is there a list of sensible universities, or is that simply an oxymoron?

wtp

Yeah, thx Nik. Now I'm gonna hear that damn song in my head all day. If I blurt out "we need to cut the balls" in on of the interminable meetings I'm scheduled for today, I'm blaming you.

Sam Duncan

“It's like these 'Whose streets? Our streets!' people currently making a mess of the UK. If they own the streets, can they take a few hours off from shouting bollocks at the police and fix the pothole outside my house?

And if anyone ever suggested actually handing ownership of the streets to local residents and businesses (as, I recently discovered, the case used to be in the area where I live until about 40-50 years ago), they'd be the first to yell “privatisation!” and try to put a stop to it.

They want all of the benefits of ownership with none of the responsibility. Power without responsibility... now, whose perogative was that said to be, again?

“Is there a list of sensible universities, or is that simply an oxymoron?”

I think it's more a case of “less insane”.

RY

The flag video is shocking and genuinely disturbing.

On a much, much lighter note - here are some Berkeley activists doing their bit for 'ludicrous disproportion.'
Truly absurd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKGG-B-M1bY

Nikw211

If I blurt out "we need to cut the balls" in on of the interminable meetings I'm scheduled for today, I'm blaming you.

Well, should that happen, wtp, I suggest you simply explain that you were quoting the words of one of the world's preeminent thinkers. As the Grauniad would have it:

    Like a Marxist Morrissey, Žižek has a way with tantalising titles and a seemingly effortless talent to provoke: Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? critiques one of his recurring bugbears, the so-called "liberal-democratic consensus"; In Defence of Lost Causes argues for a return to ideological engagement over the emptiness of post-modernism.

It's official.

David

How pleasingly ironic that phrase “Manufacturing Difference” turns out to be in light of these events.

Except for lecturers in subjects of little repute, the regurgitators of identitarian dogma tend to be the young and credulous – students - who, by definition, are lacking in wisdom, experience and perspective. Of course we’ve all been young, arrogant and hopelessly stupid. But having that youthful arrogance and stupidity encouraged and rewarded by faculty and administrators on any number of campuses - and treated as a virtue, a badge of status - is a fairly recent development. And not, I think, a happy one.

Ofay Cat

I avoided post secondary education so I didn't have to deal with the bigots, the wimps, fools of climate, the largesse scammers, the self important, but not very wise professors, the high cost of that poor education, and most of all .... the soul and mind destroying government job or the never ending beat of the Starbucks latte makers.

I don't care if anyone is offended by anything I say. I speak plain English and say what's on my mind.

Eagle

He has admitted guilt?

Then send the scapegoat into the desert, and lets finally be done with all this.

Dom

I'm not even sure anyone on the DePauw campus really believes the original story. I think they just consider it a teachable moment. The story doesn't hold up on the face of it. And why didn't anyone question the cafe-workers themselves?

D

Speaking of peoples' feelings of guilt, here's something some liberals should feel guilty about:

http://www.bookwormroom.com/2014/11/20/an-utterly-shattering-video-about-the-moral-depravity-of-students-at-uc-berkeley/

You hear about these things, but you don't really believe until you see it. It's truly sickening. They're totally blase about a person literally speaking in favor of ISIS but they can't stand the same thing with Israel. Just insane.

Lancastrian Oik

I'm not even sure anyone on the DePauw campus really believes the original story. I think they just consider it a teachable moment. The story doesn't hold up on the face of it. And why didn't anyone question the cafe-workers themselves?

I think you may be onto something. The reaction from the canteen workers to a bit of political re-education as to their "micro-aggression" when serving spicy condiments is likely to be along the lines of "Shove this job up your fundament- it's bad enough having to serve these arrogant little shits with their endless whiny questions about whether this stuff is organic, or suitable for vegans, or whatever, whilst being paid next-to-nothing. Complying with some ridiculous code of conduct imposed by idiots who have never done a blue-collar job in their lives is an extra layer of bullshit which I am not prepared to put up with. McD's are hiring".

Result: plenty of jobs for those otherwise unemployable sociology graduates.

The exquisitely nuanced service in the DePauw canteen will make a Japanese tea ceremony look like an Oldham kebab shop at three o'clock on Sunday morning.

Hal

Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with “instruments” — heaven knows what —

Accordions.

If Edinburgh or Glasgow it'd be bagpipes.

For Philadelphia, it'd be banjos.

james

Shot. Should be. With balls of their own shite.

wtp

explain that you were quoting the words of one of the world's preeminent thinkers.

There's the rub. That anyone considered a "thinker", let alone a preeminent one, should produce such a pedestrian piece of parrot poop as that video. And based on such a lame, tired joke as well. I mean, when still fresh in the 15th century I'm sure it got a howl of self-deprecating been-there-too-buddy from the serfs. I expect richer and more nuanced wit from people who supposedly understand Wittgenstein. And a touch more dignity. I've been digging around in philosophy off and on for many years now and most of what I find is this sort of vacuous pretentiousness. I suppose someone is writing another Myth of Sisyphus but not much in the domain of Twain's What Is Man?. No one on-line seems capable of understanding what is going on outside their ivory towers. And boy could those towers use a good power washing.

dicentra

From the Maoist pantomime link:

A struggle session was a form of public humiliation used by the Communist Party of China in the Mao Zedong era to shape public opinion and to humiliate, persecute, and/or execute political rivals and class enemies. In general, the victim of a struggle session was forced to admit to various crimes before a crowd of people who would verbally and physically abuse the victim until he or she confessed. Struggle sessions were often held at the workplace of the accused, but were sometimes conducted in sports stadiums where large crowds would gather if the target was famous enough

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repetition: this type of public confession of imaginary thoughtcrimes is a brainwashing technique that was used by the cults of the 1960s and 1970s. It's a great way to break the will of the stronger ones, at the same time intimidating the more timid.

Prager calls universities "Leftist Seminaries."

I'd use a stronger term.

Hal

. . . speaking in favor of ISIS . . .

Daesh is still the better term, much less confusion with the classical Egyptians.

So, speaking of the classics; How do you get a Daesh member to get off your porch?

Pay for the pizza.

sackcloth and ashes

From the Campus Watch link:

'A lady manning the cash register allegedly greeted Reyes and members of the Lambda Sigma Upsilon fraternity during a late-night visit by saying “[h]ere comes trouble.”'

OK, here's the thing. When I was at Uni and out with friends late at night, the chances are we might have been at a bit of the old falling-down juice. So maybe they'd been at the library all night studying, but perhaps the canteen worker thought these guys had been on the piss. Or maybe she was joking.

'A grill worker also asked, unprompted, if they wanted jalapenos on their food'.

Damn him for his service ethos.

'Reyes also claims the workers threatened to beat up the fraternity members and accused them of wanting to take the restaurant's money'.

OK, so let's see how this scans. The staff working at the canteen on campus (working for how much an hour?) are seriously going to threaten violence and robbery against some of their clientele? Really?

They're going to do that with the possibility that the students will go to the cops, that it will cause a stink, and that they'll lose their jobs with the uni in the process (because unions are really powerful in US workplaces, aren't they?)?

I can see this happening in an off-campus pub where the locals probably hate students in general, regardless of ethnicity, but this smells of bullshit. And it strikes me that the people on the receiving end are some blue-collar types who seriously have to count their dollars before they get their paycheck.

David

Prager calls universities “Leftist Seminaries.” I’d use a stronger term.

As I said, we’ve all be young and full of it. But over time, with luck, collisions with reality and contrary arguments can break off the worst of it. Now, however, what we’re seeing on many campuses is a protected species of stupidity that is cosseted and indulged. Previous generations of scolds and poseurs risked having their bullshit publicly challenged and their pretensions mocked. What was being mouthed could easily be contested. Now the typical campus environment actively encourages the stupidity, cultivates it, and makes contesting of its premises difficult, if not punishable.

Mr Eugenides

The Heather McDonald piece linked to above is long but essential (and enraging) reading. http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_4_racial-microaggression.html#.VG5eFw15W2x.twitter

Jeff Guinn

One of his books is Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality the second chapter of which has the title: Manufacturing Difference: The Social Construction of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality.

OK, let's explore those "Intersections", shall we?

Race consists of n non-overlapping subsets of humanity. Black is not white, Asian is not White, and also not Black, etc.

Gender consists of two non-overlapping subsets of humanity.

Sexuality consists of Lord knows how many subsets of humanity that may, or may not, and almost certainly should not, overlap.

Where is the intersection? I doubt if even one angel could dance on the head of that pin.

David Gillies

Ian B over at Tim Worstall's called them "Madrassas of Progressiviam". And outside of research in the hard sciences and engineering at the more prominent institutions, the intellectual and cultural output of US universities is nugatory. They operate like autarkies, where production is consumed internally. Po-mo 'scholarship' is produced only for the consumption of other po-mo 'scholars', which is why it can be so meretricious and unmoored from reality. Sadly, the only exports from the system are graduates infused with its nonsense, who wander off like plague vectors, bringing its infection with them.

Jimmy

Well said, David.

Nikw211

What was being mouthed could easily be contested. Now the typical campus environment actively encourages the stupidity, cultivates it, and makes contesting of its premises difficult, if not punishable.

And then they leave the cossetted world of the campus with a seemingly unquenchable faith in their own moral superiority.

And then not long after that, something like this winds up in my inbox (original emphasis):

    A new Barbie book tells girls that female engineers need men to do their work. Ironically the book is called “I Can Be a Computer Engineer”.

    The story in short: Barbie is a computer engineer. But she only does design, no coding. When designing, she infects her computer with a virus. She is helpless on her own -- her efforts actually make matters worse. In the end two boys from her computer class save the day.

    The story is so obviously reactionary, that there is not much dispute among readers: Book reviewers are outraged. If we add our voices to this protest, Mattel has to act.

    Tell Mattel to publish a book about an independent, professional women [sic] in the tech industry.

    We have to take a stance against Mattel’s sexism because Barbie’s story reinforces all the clichés women in the tech industry face everyday

I'd like to be able to say that I concocted this nonsense as a parody and I'd also like to be able to say that it stops there, but as you've probably guessed already I'd like to but I can't.

It's a real petition.

It's stupid on an epic scale and I especially like the line "Tell Mattel to publish a book …".

Because, obviously, that's just what business is like: Businessmen tell their customers to do something, the customers do it immediately, and then the fat cats just sit back and wait to become millionaire white men, rolling in privilege, lighting cigars off of fifty pound notes, stare raping pretty young waitresses in exclusive restaurants, and laughing at homeless men in the gutter. I mean it won't cost their business a single penny to just switch from one story to another just like that.

Christ on a bike.

Sadly, as David notes above, "contesting [this petition's] premises [will be] difficult, if not punishable"

P.S. Consumers should of course have a right to feedback to the companies they buy products and services from, but I really rather doubt that the people who will be most likely to sign this petition will actually be the consumers of these books.

Jimmy

Notice how there are now quite a few impossibly sexy genius computer scientists and hackers played by women in television shows. This is their ideal. It's supposed to be aspirational. Never mind the practical realities of being a shut-in spending countless hours hunched over a computer deconstructing and studying complex code.

RY

It starts before the students even begin any courses.

' University bans word "freshman" because it's sexist and promotes rape."

"Leigh-Anne Royster, director of Elon's "Inclusive Community Wellbeing," said in an email to The College Fix that she has been told by some that they believe the term "freshman" is outdated and that replacing "freshman" with "first year" is a "celebration of diversity."

'In fact the word is apparently so dangerous that any orientation leader who dared use it was immediately corrected."

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/392994/university-bans-word-freshman-because-its-sexist-and-promotes-rape-katherine-timpf

Replacing the term is supposed to be a "celebration of diversity" but those who used the "wrong" term were immediately corrected...

dicentra

Where is the intersection? I doubt if even one angel could dance on the head of that pin.

First, you forgot that the only binary that matters is oppressor/oppressed. Which does not intersect.

Then, you neglected to account for the subcategories of "oppressed": non-white, non-straight, non-male, non-able, non-rich, non-JudeoChristian, etc. Essentially, anyone who feels marginalized in the West.

Some people are able to claim membership in more than one subcategory, so they're all intersectional and stuff: black lesbian Pakistani paraplegic, for example. She gets to explain to the rest of us how the microaggressions against her are conflated, categorized, and problematized.

Seriously, the hobby of these academics is to "problematize" issues that you and I find only slightly significant, such as having a neighbor whose barbecue aroma is different from yours, so you find it less pleasant than your own.

That's Othering right there, I tells ya. Problematic from the off.

dicentra

Barbie is a computer engineer. But she only does design, no coding. When designing, she infects her computer with a virus. She is helpless on her own -- her efforts actually make matters worse. In the end two boys from her computer class save the day.

HA!

Ask my co-workers how often they have to bail me out because I did something weird to a system — a system that's designed to be used by people with their level of technical expertise, not mine.

I muck up things all the time because I'm in over my head. (I understand the systems well enough to explain how they work, but the details in implementation sometimes evade me: programs and networks are mind-bogglingly complex.)

Oh, and sometimes I ask a woman to bail me out, because she's a coder, but she's not always the one to ask.

Someone who designs but not codes very conceivably would muck things up without being able to fix them. It happens every day in IT.

But of course, reality is not welcome among the #WestboroFeminists. That would destroy their craft.

Account Deleted

The Professor might as well have apologized for his very existence...and castrate himself.

Vince N

Manufacturing Difference: The Social Construction of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality.

In other words, "diversity" is a fraud?

rabbit

It's fine to see the world's problems as your responsibility. But what kind of arrogance does it take to see them as your fault?

Robert

David, the definition of chutzpah:

https://twitter.com/AgeofMockery/status/536227160768647168

David

the definition of chutzpah

Heh. But of course. It’s almost as if the student in question has a profound, possibly terminal, lack of self-awareness, but it’s a standard pattern for such people. It’s very much in fashion and has a long, if hardly honourable, history on the academic left.

The students, with their unilateral sense of entitlement, are simply enacting the advice of, for instance, the Marxist academic Herbert Marcuse, whose essay Repressive Tolerance denounced as “oppressive” the custom of hearing out one’s opponents and engaging with their arguments, and instead urged leftist radicals to be “intolerant towards the protagonists of the repressive status quo.” (Marcuse’s essay is an extended, self-flattering whine about the far left’s failure to convince the broader population of it virtues, supposedly because “radical minorities” have “unequal access to the means of democratic persuasion.” In other words, it’s apparently unfair that totalitarian leftists aren’t given free airtime - as much of it as they wish – unchallenged by contrary views and uninterrupted by commercials, which are capitalist propaganda.)

And we’ve seen this arrogance and obliviousness enacted many times. In March 2009, the writer Don Feder tried to engage students at the University of Massachusetts in a discussion on the subject of free speech versus so-called “hate speech.” Within 20 seconds Feder had been shouted down, called a racist and assailed with epithets about his daughter. Despite his repeated calls for civility, Feder wasn’t allowed to speak for longer than three minutes without deafening interruption or further personal abuse - from people who want to show the world just how much they care.

The following month at UNC Chapel Hill, retired congressman Tom Tancredo tried to begin a discussion on the subject of illegal immigration. Students refused to let him speak for more than a few seconds. The university’s geography professor Altha Cravey - whose interests include “critical thinking,” “gender, race and class,” and “progressive social change” - saw fit to add her own voice to the jeers and chanting, to make sure everyone saw her leftist credentials. Soon the students were physically harassing the astonished guest and smashing windows to ensure he couldn’t speak. Fearing further escalation, campus police escorted Tancredo from the room, then, hastily, from campus. He was practically chased away.

And more recently there was this stunning display of intellectual wherewithall.

The widening of minds, see. It’s what education’s all about.

Henry

Not entirely unrelated

I've only just got round to reading this, but the real horror was listening to the podcast on the page, where Brendan O'Neill attempts to debate the issue with an Oxford student feminist, who clearly doesn't think free speech all that important (apart from her own, obviously)

I do vaguely remember meeting this type of feminist - the type who simply will not stop talking, aggressively interrupts, and contradicts every sentence you utter. What a joy.

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